HYROX - Glasgow 2023

HYROX - Glasgow 2023

My 3rd time doing HYROX and my 3rd attempt at trying to break my target time of 1h 10m.   This time it was on home turf in Scotland at the SEC in Glasgow.

For a nice change, I felt in good shape and had no injuries, no illnesses, and no natural disasters in the lead up to the event, so things were looking good.   I was confident that as long as I didn't make any silly mistakes during the race (which I had done in both races so far!) then I would hit that 1h 10m time.

(Not familiar with HYROX?  Have a quick skim of one of my previous posts - HYROX London April 22 and HYROX 2 - Return to London)

The Venue

The Glasgow HYROX was taking place at the SEC - a typical venue for large attendance events like concerts, conferences, and indoor sports.  Very easy to get to, a nice stress-free 1hr drive for me compared to the 12hr train-hell to get to London last time!

On the negative side - the toilet situation was not great.  Very limited for the number of people and a big queue even for the urinals at certain times.   There also didn't seem to be a dedicated changing area like London had.

However, the atmosphere was still phenomenal as it has been at every HYROX I've attended so far.   The sheer number of people, the music, people constantly running round as part of all the different races and waves throughout the day.  It's an assault on your senses, and a bit overwhelming, but definitely makes for an exciting event.

It was going to be a looong day, with the individual race in the morning and the team relay not until 9pm at night!  First up - the individual race and my goal of sub-70mins...

  The Race  

There was a lot of concern pre-race when the course map and running route was distributed.  Instead of the usual large rectangle or oval, it was almost a bottle shape with two chicanes and a very tight hairpin.  Many people (myself included) thought that it would be a slow run course with potential (literal) bottlenecks.

HYROX Glasgow 2023 - Course Map

The course map for HYROX Glasgow 2023

These concerns turned out to be completely unfounded.  The running course was wide enough that you could almost straight line through the chicanes, as well taking a wide angle in and out of the corners.   Much more space than the previous HYROX I've experienced in London.

This led to some pretty fast running times, but I'll touch more on than later.

Similar to previous HYROX events, there is a dedicated athlete warm-up area with some rowers, ski-ergs, bikes.  It felt pretty small and very busy this time.

Again, as usual, not really any space to do any kind of running warm-up.  Which I still find strange since you start the race by running a quick 1km, and run 10km+ in total (probably at least 50% of the overall race time!).

There wasn't really any space in the SEC outside the event hall either.  So I headed completely outside into the cold to do my own normal dynamic running warm-up.  I seemed to be the only person doing this haha, so not sure what everyone else does.  Maybe just me that I feel I need a proper run warm-up before attempting to run fast.

It was also nice just to get outside for a bit before racing.  The event hall is always incredibly hot due to the number of people and, as I said previously, a bit overwhelming on the senses.  So if you can, get away for a bit before your race time.  You don't want to be mentally exhausted before your race even starts!

Finally into the holding pen 10mins before the start, the usual pumped up music and countdown, we were off.

Ski Erg

The first run went well.  I felt good, finishing it in a pretty quick 3:32.   Straight into the first exercise of the Ski Erg.

HYROX Glasgow 2023 - Ski Erg

Watching the monitor trying to keep a steady comfortable pace.

So many people kill themselves for no reason on the Ski Erg, simply because it's the first exercise.  The difference between the best times and average times is only about 30s, so there really isn't any point.  I use this as a chance to settle into the race a bit, and try to calm myself down a bit after the adrenaline surge of the start.

Wasn't my best Ski Erg time (4:27 - top 43%), but it was comfortable and I preserved plenty energy for what was to come.

The sleds

With the second run complete in a similar time of 3:31, it was on to the sleds.

The carpet the sleds were on in Glasgow seemed particularly tough to push on for some reason.  The carpet seemed sort of loose, so it moved slightly or wrinkled up a tiny bit when you moved the sled.  Making it particularly difficult to push the sled along.

Maybe something to bear in mind if you're practicing sled push/pull on a nice pristine astroturf in a commercial gym.  The same weight will probably feel a lot tougher on the day due to the carpet and increased friction.

HYROX Glasgow 2023 - Sled Push

Straining on the sled push during the individual race

Despite this, I managed a sled push PB by 3s (2:47 - top 36%), and significantly better than my last London event where I struggled to push it due to a quad injury.

With the usual spike in heart rate, and slightly jelly legs, I knocked out the next run in a decent 3:45 and then headed into the sled pull.

The race plan

To hit my sub-70min goal I had meticulously planned out specific time splits for every exercise based on my previous attempts.  However, all plans go out the window as soon as you hit the sleds haha.   Knowing this, I boiled things down to a simple plan of 15min targets:

  • 15mins - Sled push complete
  • 30mins - Run 4 complete
  • 45mins - 1000m row complete
  • 60mins - Sandbag lunges complete

Even this simple plan sort of went out the window, but after the sled push was complete I was more or less bang on track at a time of 14:51.

The race doesn't start until after the sleds

I feel pretty confident on the sled pull, and I'm reasonably happy with the technique I've worked on.  Sled pull complete with no issues in 3:56 (top 18%)

HYROX Glasgow 2023 - Sled Pull

The sled pull during the Team Relay event

With the sleds out the way, the race properly begins and the exercises become better suited to me (at least statistically based on results anyway).

I managed a PB on almost every exercise after the sleds.   On the burpee broad jumps, a 10s PB with a time of 3:16 (top 5%).  Then on the 1000m row a 16s PB for a time of 4:33 (top 15%).

The row PB was sort of free time to be honest, as it was the first event I've not had shoe and foot strap issues here.  Previously I had worn Nike Vaporfly's which I struggled to get fixed in the foot straps due to the weird pointy bit at the back of the shoes.  This time I had went for the Puma Deviate Nitro Elites, a much more conventional shape of shoe, so no issues using the rower.

Friendly competition

A big part of me getting PBs on most of the exercises was undoubtedly due to some friendly competition with a fellow Race Fitness team member - "Fast Gav".  Gav started in the same wave as me, and so provided extra motivation to push and try to create a gap.

Every time I thought I had gotten away from him, he would suddenly appear sitting next to me on the rower, or picking up the kettlebells right behind me.

My goal of sub-70mins was quickly superseded by the focus of staying ahead and beating Gav haha.

HYROX Glasgow 2023 - Finisher Wall

Finisher wall with Gav after a successful race

Slight confusion

The rest of the race went well.  I continued putting in solid running times all under 4min/km pace, and getting small PBs on the exercises.  However, there was one moment of slight confusion.

There is a giant TV screen part way round the running course, and it tells you what lap you are on, or what exercise station to go to, as you run past it.   After doing the 1000m row (exercise 5), and the subsequent run laps, the TV screen was telling me to go to exercise 5 again!

I had a horrible feeling of panic and dread like I had messed up something somehow.   I wasn't sure what to do.   Either go with what it says and do the row again (ruining my race), or ignore it and go to exercise 6 - Farmers Carry (maybe getting an incorrect penalty and maybe ruining my race).

I chose the latter and ignored it.  Fortunately things seemed to resolve themselves, no penalty was issued, and it picked up all my splits correctly.   Definitely caused an unnecessary panic and spike in heart rate though!  Also worth remembering going forward not to be 100% reliant on the TV screen, as it's clearly not infallible.

Final stretch

The Farmers Carry and Sandbag Lunges went well, with times of 1:32 (top 8%) and 3:46 (top 14%) respectively.   I was a bit annoyed on the farmers carry, as I could've went slightly faster but was blocked by someone else slower in front of me for the final 2 lengths.

HYROX Glasgow 2023 - Sandbag Lunges

A 20s PB on the sandbag lunges

Glasgow was a bit unusual in the sense that the final run was an extra half-lap longer than any other run, and the Wall Balls station wasn't actually in the Roxzone at all.  I didn't actually mind this at all, a bit harder to evenly pace the runs, but a longer gap between the sandbag lunges and the wall balls.

Coming into the wall balls I glanced down at my watch, and it said 59:47.  I had completely forgot about my planned 15min targets, and getting chased by Gav had pushed me on to a far quicker time!

At that point, I already started to feel a bit of relief, as I had an entire 10mins to do the wall balls.  I probably could've knocked them out quicker, but chose to stick to my wall ball plan of 40 reps - 15s rest - 30 reps - 15s rest - 30 reps.

With the final wall balls complete in 4:22 (top 5%), I sprinted over the finish line with a total time of 1:04:09 (top 3%) and a massive smile on my face.

HYROX Glasgow 2023 - Finish Line

Finally, 3rd time lucky, nothing went wrong, and I smashed through that 1:10 target.

Post-race analysis

It was a HYROX PB for me by a huge 7m 31s!  This wasn't really due to one specific thing.  Instead I had small PBs across most of the exercises, minimised any time wasted in the Roxzone, put together decent run times throughout, and never made any silly mistakes!

HYROX Glasgow - Time Comparison with previous attempts

A comparison of the Glasgow splits against my previous best split times

Also a shout out to Gav for pushing me to go faster than I had planned.

Short run course?

There was some discussion on social media afterwards about how the runs were too short, leading to very quick times. 

I used a Stryd foot pod for pacing on the runs and this also records distance as well.  I find this reasonably accurate though can still get thrown off a bit by tight turns (which this event had).   With that in mind, based on my footpod data it looks like the run distances were roughly:

  • Run 1 = 1km
  • Runs 2 to 7 = 900-920m
  • Run 8 = 1.3-1.4km

Giving a total run lap distance likely between 7.7 - 7.92km.   So yes, was probably a little on the short side.
Obviously how much free time gain this gives you depends on how fast you run 100-300m.  I imagine somewhere between 30-45s for most people.

Not ideal for an event that is meant to be the exact same every time.  For myself, since I smashed my PB by over 7mins I'm not too bothered by this.  Maybe I would feel differently if I had only just scraped under 70mins by less than 30s.

  Team Relay  

After eating a LOT of food, and chilling out in Glasgow for the day, it was time for the exciting team relay.

The team relay consists of 4 people, each person doing 2x1km runs and 2 exercises.  We had a great team of Race Fitness members, and had planned out an optimal strategy for this based on our individual exercise times from earlier in the day.

This was all just for an extra bit of fun and not taking it too seriously.  However, once the race starts, things change haha, and you find yourself pushing as hard as you ever could for the sake of the team.

I love team events!  You can always find an extra level, an extra gear, that you can't access if only doing something by yourself.  That drive to thrash yourself so you don't let the team down always pushes you on to great things.

I was doing the sled pull and the wall balls in the relay.  I was buzzing when it was my time to go, and beasted myself to a 3:08 run and a 3:41 sled pull.

The other guys properly thrashed themselves as well, everyone far exceeding their individual exercise times from earlier.  Was brilliant fun, and I highly recommend signing up for the team relay event as well.

It was on to me for the final leg to bring things home with the wall balls.  I had a conversation with Gav before the race about if we could do the 100 wall balls unbroken.  We came to the conclusion that if you managed to get to 80, then adrenaline would see you through for the final 20.

HYROX Glasgow - Wall Balls

Going for 100 reps unbroken on the wall balls!

I'm glad we had that conversation.  I got to 60 unbroken, and then I thought to myself "wait a sec, 60 is nearly at 80" thinking about the conversation of getting to 80 earlier haha.  So I kept going and successfully managed all 100 wall ball reps unbroken to finish off the relay!

To make things even better, our total time of 1:00:40 was good enough for 2nd overall and 1st place AG!

A properly brilliant day, and I highly recommend HYROX to anyone.

HYROX Glasgow 2023 - Team Relay Podium

1st place in AG (2nd overall) in the Men's Team Relay

As an extra bonus, I discovered the next day that my individual time was good enough for a place at the HYROX World Championships in May.   So now I'm fully invested into training for that!